Saturday 31 March 2007

UPDATE: Court of Appeal Grants Injunction to Non-Muslim Appellant on the Religious Case Involving the Syariah Court

" In the current controversy, the perception of the Malaysian public is this:
The wisdom of our civil court judges, especially our learned Muslim judges involved in these cases, is being influenced or coloured, knowingly or unknowingly, by their own religious sentiments and their personal prejudices, instead of being guided by their profound knowledge of the rule of law and the Malaysian Federal Constitution.

The lesson Malaysians are beginning to learn from this controversy is that situations WILL arise again and again where our learned Muslim judges will be faced with personal or religious dilemma within themselves when fronted with cases involving non-Muslims, Islam and the Syariah court.

And Malaysians expect, without any exception, that this uncertainty should NEVER be a factor, and be seen as NOT a factor, in the discharge of their duties as judges of our civil courts .

The honorable thing for these affected judges to do is to simply recuse themselves from these cases."

  • Read HERE earlier posting on the recent rulings of the civil courts on religious cases
    • Excerpts: Read here for more in The SUN, article by R. Surenthira Kumar :

      "... R. Subashini's Muslim convert husband has been temporarily prevented from using the Syariah Court to dissolve their civil marriage, seek custody of their children, and unilaterally convert one child.

      In a majority decision today (March 30th) , the Court of Appeal granted Subashini an interim injunction to restrain T. Saravanan, now known by his Muslim name of Muhamad Shafi Saravanan Abdullah, from proceeding with his case at the syariah courts pending the disposal of her application to the Federal Court to hear her appeal of the Appeal Court's earlier decision.

      The three-person bench was chaired by Sri Ram, and also comprised Justices Datuk Hasan Lah and Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar.

      Following today's interim injunction, Subashini later filed the leave application to the Federal Court.

      Sri Ram and Hasan allowed the injunction, while Suriyadi dissented but NO reason was given for his decision.

      Today's injunction order prevents Saravanan from converting his second child, one-year-old Sharvind, to Islam.

      The formerly Hindu businessman converted the first child, Dharvin Joshua, to Islam WITHOUT Subashini's knowledge.

      On March 13, the same Court of Appeal bench, in a majority decision with Justice Gopal Sri Ram dissenting, had dismissed Subashini's appeal, saying she could seek recourse through the Syariah Appeal Court.

      Subashini's appeal was to stop Saravanan from dissolving their marriage, seeking custody of their children and unilaterally converting their children to Islam.

      Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar

      Malik Imtiaz, representing Subashini, said the effect of the Court of Appeal's majority decision on March 13 was so momentous, in that for the FIRST TIME, the CIVIL courts have told a NON-Muslim that she must submit to the syariah courts to be adjudicated according to Islamic law.

      The Federal Court, Malik Imtiaz said, ought to properly consider the application to appeal. "It would, therefore, also be in the public interest for the status quo to be preserved," he added.

      Lawyer representing Saravanan (the husband who converted to Islam) , argued that it should be the Federal Court that heard today's application, and the move was akin to the court attempting to review its previous decision. But his argument was shot down by Sri Ram who said the Court of Appeal had the authority to do so. Sri Ram also said there was no such attempt to review its previous decision.

      "This is a very serious encroachment of her rights. Injunctions are normally granted by the courts on the basis of preventing injustice," said Sri Ram.

      But Malik Imtiaz said there was NO guarantee that would NOT happen, hence the threat still existed.

      Meera Samanther held a watching brief for the Women's Aid Organisation, Women's Centre For Change, Women's Development Collective, Sisters In Islam, All Women's Action Society and the Bar Council, and Ng Chek for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. ..."

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